Author: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 10th 2017
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumoured to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Rune, respecting what will probably be the last wishes of her grandmother, has been invited to attend RoseBlood; an exclusive academy training the next opera stars in the heart of Paris. For anyone else this would be a dream come true but for Rune, who has only ever felt possessed by the music she sings, it’s a nightmare. She doesn’t want to train her voice or get over her “stage fright”, all she wants to is find out what is causing her to become possessed by certain pieces of music and stop it from happening, especially after what she did back home in America.
There are forces at play which have brought Rune to RoseBlood for a specific purpose beyond controlling her voice, however there are also forces that want her to leave RoseBlood and never look back. Meanwhile Rune’s musical possession is quickly making her enemies, and it becomes hard to tell what are cruel pranks by jealous classmates and what are sinister tricks and traps by a more powerful entity.
The Phantom himself has brought Rune to RoseBlood, hoping to use Rune for his own means. However as Rune learns more about her curse she finds Thorn, a boy whom she feels strongly connected to and who has his own desires which are at war with what his father wants.
There is someone watching Rune all the time, slowly seeking to drive her away from her friends and her family leaving her utterly dependant on the Phantom and willing do his bidding, no matter the cost to her or the people she loves.
I went into this book hoping to really enjoy it. Although I haven’t read or seen Phantom of the Opera, and I know next to nothing about the story, I really loved A.G. Howard’s first series; Splintered. I expected more of the same from RoseBlood but was unfortunately left finding this new standalone lacking. The plot was slow to start which in itself wasn’t too bad but there were too many issues with the characters I just couldn’t get past.
Rune has been possessed by music ever since she was four. With her father she was able to control it but once he died she was left ill and shaken by what her voice does to her. Rune is reluctant to attend RoseBlood, she knows with her strange gift she will quickly alienate herself among her peers. I found Rune to be a very contradictory character at times; she seemed to change her mind, often going a complete 180 from her original thoughts, which left me confused and unable to really connect with her. It felt like her emotions were removed and in spite of everything she goes through and everything she does it never seemed like there were any real consequences to her actions.
Thorn has lived in the darkness and the shadows for years now. Ever since he was a child left abused and hurt by what life seemed to throw at him. He is loyal to his father beyond all else, and it’s clear he loves the man unconditionally, but when he meets Rune and comes to the realisation that they are twin flames it throws all his feelings and morals into a tailspin. Very quickly Thorn starts to question everything he’s ever believed and sees his father in a new, chilling light.
I felt that Thorn’s character’s journey could have been an amazing one to read as he struggles with the difficulty of choosing between his father and his soulmate. However it never felt his character was properly developed. Everything we discover about Thorn, and Rune to some extent, felt like a case of tell and not show. There were info dumps in this book going into the character’s various back stories when we needed to know the information to continue on with the story, and it just threw the plot and the characters a little off course for me.
I would have liked to see more character development in this book, more back story opposed to info dumps, and more of the relationship between Thorn and Rune developed organically rather than very suddenly. They’re twin flames so insta-love is kind of a factor in their relationship in this book.
I mentioned this earlier in my review but I haven’t read or seen the source material this book was based on. I think if I had I may have enjoyed RoseBlood that little bit more, being able to pick up the little references and throwbacks to the original tale; the opera house converted into the school Rune attends, as well as Paris and Versailles itself. I can’t really speak for how this book follows on from Phantom of the Opera, I do know that some major changes to the characters in the original book were made in RoseBlood but I think the concept was really interesting. It would have been nice to see more of Paris or Versailles while Rune was there but I loved the atmosphere we read about in the school and the sewers underground where the Phantom made his home.
It was a struggle to come up with a rating for RoseBlood. It was good, but unfortunately the slow pacing and lack of character development counted too much against it for me to rate it any higher. You may have better luck with this book if you read and enjoyed the original Phantom of the Opera story but I just expected more from the author who wrote one of my favourite series.
What did you think of RoseBlood? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.